A LEGISLATOR on Sunday called for an investigation into unregistered Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and to look into their ultimate ownership.
Representative Robert Ace S. Barbers of Surigao del Norte’s second district claimed that he has received reports that 46 out of the 58 POGO firms licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) are unregistered corporations.
“I may not be too accurate but I am certain that most if not all of the 46 POGOs have no legal personality because their names are not found in the business/company name registry in the Philippines or abroad,” Mr. Barbers said.
He urged the Philippine National Police, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the National Bureau of Investigation to “dig deeper” into the people behind POGOs and physical casinos licensed by PAGCOR.
Mr. Barbers also said that PAGCOR should exercise caution in granting licenses to POGOs.
“In short, our authorities should determine the beneficial owners and workers of these POGO firms. Are they of good repute and are not associated with persons with questionable reputations, character, honesty and integrity?,” he said.
POGOs have been receiving licenses since 2016, and the industry employs about 138,000 workers, most of them from China.
The Department of Finance recently warned of a crackdown on POGOs found to be evading taxes owed by their foreign workers.
BusinessWorld asked PAGCOR to comment, but it had not replied at deadline time. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras